The current generation of music fans can barely hold their attention on one record or band for more than a week, which makes letting three years pass in-between albums a risky move – especially when your last one didn’t catch on all that well. But Hit The Lights have nothing to fear as Summer Bones will prove to new listeners that they are still a staple in the pop-punk community, but this record is really for the veteran fans.
Hit The Lights did something ridiculously clever throughout Summer Bones and dropped loose references to some of their most popular songs from the 2000’s. In the album opener, “Fucked Up Kids”, Nick Thompson sings “We can roam the streets / Drinking Genesee / Running from police” – a casual citation to their 2008 hit “Stay Out” in which he bellows “Let’s go some place where the cops will leave us alone”. The title track, “Summer Bones” pulls from the second verse of “Stay Out” (“You can find us hiding in headstones”) when Thompson solemnly sings, “Tonight I’ll tear down the headstones we hid behind, one at a time”. And while the minute extractions may be lost on anyone under the age of 21, they’re a nice, subtle wink to those who were screaming along to “Body Bag” in a shitty VFW on a Friday night almost ten years ago.
But really, every element of Summer Bones is homage to Hit The Lights’ early years – lyrically and musically. They have brought back their “we don’t give a fuck” attitudes that earned them their cult following during the pre-Twitter era of their careers. And the “pop” half of pop-punk that was seemingly lost on their 2012 release, Invicta, has returned and feels natural. This is the record that should have followed up Skip School, Start Fights (2008), but regardless it is definitely worth the near-seven year wait.
Arguably the most impressive track on the record, “No Filter” is seemingly about a relationship gone south, but the bridge will hit listeners right in the gut when Thompson chants “You crave acceptance from strangers through pictures and filters / Attention from people who don’t know you / And now that it’s over, how many will be there to pick you back up”. It’s an intelligent critique on today’s generation and avoids the general clichés that come with mentioning social media in song.
While there truly isn’t a bad song on Summer Bones, the heavy “Revolutions and Executions”, melancholy “Summer Bones” and fast-paced “Life On The Bottom” are standouts among the rest. Thompson’s signature vocals are not the only thing that make Summer Bones a blatant Hit The Lights record: the lyrical content, subtle breakdowns and distinct drum tones are all key elements of the band’s early catalog. There’s a consistency throughout this record that was lost on Invicta.
Summer Bones closes with the anthem-like track, “Old Friend” – a blunt “thank you” to those who waited patiently as Hit The Lights re-found their sound. “All this time not knowing where we’re going, where we’ll be / You have been a constant source of trust and sanity” rings the first verse. And while it’s true that the future is unknown, Summer Bones will definitely secure a successful year for Hit The Lights as kids discover them for the first time and adults grab on to what they used to love about the genre. After years of being sugarcoated with pizza jokes and posi jumps, there’s finally a reason to get excited about pop-punk again. If nostalgia is a bitch, Summer Bones is the bitch you can’t stop listening to. Hit The Lights, so happy to see you again.
(by Catherine Powell)